1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Topeka

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TOPEKA, a city and the county-seat of Shawnee county, Kansas, U.S.A., the capital of the state, situated on both sides of the Kansas river, in the east part of the state, about 60 m. W. of Kansas City. Pop. (1900), 33,608, of whom 3201 were foreign-born (including 702 Germans, 575 Swedes, 512 English, 407 Russians, 320 Irish, &c.) and 4807 were negroes; (1910, census), 43,684. It is served by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific railways. The city is regularly laid out on a fairly level prairie bench, considerably elevated above the river and about 890 ft. above sea-level. Among its prominent buildings are the United States government building, the Capitol (erected 1866-1903 at a cost of $3,200,589 and one of the best state buildings in the country), the county court house, the public library (1882), an auditorium (with a seating capacity of about 5000), the Y.M.C.A. building, a memorial building, housing historical relics of the state, and Grace Church Cathedral (Protestant Episcopal). The city is the see of a Protestant Episcopal bishop. In the Capitol are the library (about 6000 volumes) and natural history collections of the Kansas Academy of Science, and the library (30,000 books, 94,000 pamphlets and 28,500 manuscripts) and collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, which publishes Kansas Historical Collections (1875 sqq.) and Biennial Reports (1879 sqq.). The city is the seat of Washburn (formerly Lincoln) College (1865), which took its present name in 1868 in honour of Ichabod Washburn of Worcester, Massachusetts, who gave it $25,000; in 1909 it had 783 students (424 being women). Other educational establishments are the College of the Sisters of Bethany (Protestant Episcopal, 1861), for women, and the Topeka Industrial and Educational Institute (1895), for negroes. In Topeka are the state insane asylum, Christ's Hospital (1894), the Jane C. Stormont Hospital and Training School for nurses (1895), the Santa Fé Railway Hospital, the Bethesda Hospital (1906) and the St Francis Hospital (1909). Topeka is an important manufacturing city. Its factory product was valued in 1905 at $14,448,869. Natural gas is piped from southern Kansas for manufacturing and domestic use.

The first white settlement on the site of Topeka was made in 1852, but the city really originated in 1854, when its site was chosen by a party from Lawrence. It was from the first a free-state stronghold. More than one convention was held here in Territorial days, including that which framed the Topeka Constitution of 1855; and some of the meetings of the free-state legislature chosen under that document (see Kansas) were also held here. Topeka was made the temporary state capital under the Wyandotte Constitution, and became the permanent capital in 1861. It was first chartered by the pro-slavery Territorial legislature in 1857, but did not organize its government until 1858 (see Lawrence). In 1881 it was chartered as a city of the first class. The first railway outlet, the Union Pacific, reached Eugene, now North Topeka, in 1865. The construction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé was begun here in 1868, and its construction shops, of extreme importance to the city, were built here in 1878. In 1880, just after the great negro immigration to Kansas, the coloured population was 31% of the total.

See F. W. Giles, Thirty Years in Topeka (Topeka, 1886).